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CEO Interviews: What are the Top 3 Financial Reports CEOs Want Today?

We interviewed 100 SMB CEOs for our study to gain insights into their needs on financial reports. Our target was to get insights into how the end of the ultra-low interest rate era has changed CEOs' financial reporting needs.

Interviews of 100 SMB CEOs on financial reporting needs

One of the key questions we asked was, 'What is the most important financial KPI you want to know?' This question aimed at understanding the Financial KPIs that hold the highest priority for SMB CEOs in monitoring companies' finances. The responses we received provided valuable insights into the critical areas of focus for CEOs on financial reporting.

CEOs prefer more frequent reporting to stay on top of rapidly changing market conditions. Monthly financial reports are needed to provide traction against the target or the comparison period. Weekly financial updates are necessary to provide more real-time insights. Instead of forecasts, CEOs are focusing now on the scenarios A, B and C. The influence of the recent shifts in interest rates on the results is quite apparent.

Based on our CEO interviews, Cash, Sales and Open sales invoices are the three most popular financial reports CEOs need regularly: weekly, or monthly.

Sales: What are our current sales numbers?

Sales is the top financial KPI for the CEO. Regarding the company size, CEOs are salespeople.

Sales directly translate into revenue, which is the lifeblood of the business.

Sales funds growth operations and cover all expenses. Sales teams are on the front lines and often directly talk with customers. They gather valuable feedback about products and services, which can be used to improve. This is why CEOs prioritize sales reports.

Sales comparison: How are our sales against the last month/week/year or budget?

CEOs are responsible for achieving sales targets and goals set by the board. Meeting or exceeding sales targets is a critical component of this.

Based on our CEO interviews, comparing actual sales against the budget, scenarios, or forecast is the must-have financial report to the CEOs, as it assesses how well the company performs. Typically, CEOs review the sales reports on a weekly or monthly basis.

With riskrate, CEOs can track the sales vs. any comparison periods. CEOs can also keep product teams easily updated on the churning and growing customers and products.

Cash: What is our current cash position?

Based on our CEO interviews, the company's current cash balance and short-term cash flow forecast is the top priority for CEOs today. This ensures the CEO has enough Cash in bank accounts to run the business.

Cash is crucial for CEO SMBs, especially now, when we have seen a rapid change in interest rates. CEOs must prioritize balancing cash flow to ensure the business has the liquidity for day-to-day operations like salaries, taxes, and vendor payments.

Cash forecast: Do we have money to run our business?

Surprisingly, CEOs prioritize the short-term cash forecast over the long-term cash forecast, as the uncertainty in economic environments can make long-term cash forecasting less reliable. In addition, short-term cash forecasts are crucial for meeting operational expenses, ensuring salaries, paying suppliers, and covering day-to-day costs.

A good example of a CEO's need is a short-term forecast of cash inflows and outflows for the following 2-4 weeks.

While short-term forecasts are prioritized in uncertain environments, CEOs should maintain a longer-term cash outlook and reassess cash forecasts as market conditions stabilize. This ensures the company is well-prepared for immediate challenges and long-term growth.

Open sales invoices: Where is our money?

Overdue customer payments relate directly to the company's cash flow today.

Some CEOs mentioned that they regularly need an update on how much the company has on open, unpaid customer sales invoices. This is crucial for managing cash flow and ensuring timely cash-in payments.

CEOs prefer graphics instead of financial tables. So reports should present pictures and not more than three highlights to save CEOs time.

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